I never did go back and dig in to the idea of the “specific intellectual” in Foucault like I wanted to. There’s a post here from some Foucault email list that talks about the category a bit, mentioning that Foucault sometimes pointed to Oppenheimer and sometimes to Darwin as markers of a transition in what an intellectual was/could be/should be (hard to tell descriptive from prescriptive with Foucault). If I remember right, and I’m not sure I do, I think Foucault mentioned medical folk who used their medical abilities in causes, and medical folk who struggled over issues in medicine, as two examples of what he meant. I thought of this just now because of the stuff I’m reading re: the Spanish civil war – nurses and doctors who went to Spain to give medical care as a way to oppose fascism, and who tried to win support for the anti-fascist cause among other medical folk. Sounds to me like a case of what I think Foucault was on about. (See “Negro Doctors Asked to Aid Spain Loyalists,” Los Angeles Sentinel Sep 8, 1938, page 5) I also wonder if there’s a role for race here – is the specificity solely defined by profession (medical, scientific, etc) or can African American intellectual who appealed to African Americans have a sort of specificity (in the sense of “specific intellectual”) as well?

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